(Alfredo Carrasquillo is VOCAL’s Civil Rights Organizer and a long-time activist against biased policing practices, including stop and frisk, and racially biased marijuana arrests)
August 13, 2013 by Jay Dow, WPIX Reporter
29-year-old Alfredo Carrasquillo grew up in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx, and is intimately familiar with the practice that often starts innocently enough with a police officer’s question.
Stop-and-frisk, at least the way the NYPD is accused of practicing it, is no more.
So the question is what does that mean for New Yorkers like Alfredo Carrasquillo? The 29-year-old grew up in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx, and is intimately familiar with the practice that often starts innocently enough – with a police officer’s question.
“They said, ‘You sure you coming to visit a friend?’ Questioning my sincerity about what I was doing? I said, ‘Yeah, obviously that’s what I just told you I was doing!’” Carrasquillo told PIX11.
“He pulls me over. Puts me against the wall, has me put my hands up against the wall, and tells me, ‘Oh you wanna be smart? I got you,’” said Carrasquillo.
Data used in the landmark federal trial that ultimately struck down stop-and-frisk for “indirect racial profiling” and 4th Amendment Violations showed about 90 percent of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisks ended with no summons – and no arrest.
And to be clear, we are not investigating whether Carrasquillo’s stop was justified. In fact, he was very candid with us about his history with the department.
“That’s right. That’s right. And I’d like to clarify, I did get arrested for small amounts of marijuana. And it was only found during an illegal search. I wasn’t doing any illegal activity that would have led to that arrest. I was simply walking down the street, which fits the profile of a black man walking down the street, and was stopped and frisked – and searched – illegally,” Carrasquillo said.
Right or wrong, legal or illegal, Carrasquillo tells us the relationship between beat officers on the street – and residents, has been and continues to be strained.
Carrasquillo says he automatically get nervous when he see officers now. “If they start walking to me, I’m automatically assuming they’re going to question me, and possible search me, and run my ID. It’s just an automatic instinct growing up in a community where you’re constantly targeted and profiled. It feels like you’re in a police state. It feels like you can’t walk out of your house. And if feels like the police aren’t here to protect and serve. They’re here to target you, and make sure you stay in place.”
Carrasquillo questions how quickly Judge Shira Scheindlin’s decision – with several built in remedies — including a federal monitor — can affect department culture, which will ultimately dictate how cops conduct themselves on the beat.
“In my opinion, it’s (the court opinion) a start toward offering communities of color who have been victims of these biased police practices for years, saying that they’re listening,” Carrasquillo said. “Mayor Bloomberg and police commissioner Ray Kelly need to stop saying that these practices work, when they have never walked in the shoes of a person of color. They’ve never lived in this area – in the South Bronx, and been stopped and frisked the majority of their life, and been fearful of walking down the street, and fearing that the cops are here to target you , and arrest you, than to help you. So until they can understand that, and relate to that, they need to do what’s right by the people and stop violating people’s right on a regular basis.”